Baby formula shortage has Tennessee families searching for alternatives

Families forced to get creative amid baby formula shortage
Posted at 6:41 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 22:51:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Little Landon Cox is a healthy eater, at least according to his mom Jenna.

"We go through a canister a week," she said.

But now Jenna worries about being able to keep her baby fed.

"We actually started him out at the hospital on the Similac Pro-Advance and that was a little bit too tough on his tummy so we needed the Pro-Sensitive," she said.

Cox is one of many parents combing store shelves and online stores for her baby's formula.

"Well it's like a rat race," she said. "It's like you have to rush to Target as soon as they open to see if there's anything on the shelves, and there's nothing."

In Tennessee, more than half of baby formula is sold out. That's why Amber Sanders created a Facebook group to connect Tennessee families in the search.

"I mean for me it's just panicking all the time," said Sanders. "I mean I'm constantly stressed about it."

Dr. Alanna Patsiokas — who is the medical director of the Pediatric Group at TriStar Centennial Children's Hospital — said turning to social media can be helpful to find formula in your area.

But she is noticing some alarming misinformation online like at-home recipes, watering down formula, using goat milk and cow's milk as substitutes.

"Really, formula is highly regulated. It has the right amount of nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins that are essential for the growth of your baby," said Patsiokas.

Instead, bring your formula container to the store to compare the label with other FDA-approved formulas with similar ingredients. They can serve as a temporary substitute, she said. Stores like Whole Foods, Kroger or Target may offer similar store-brand products. And if you can, enlist the help of family and friend's to look elsewhere.

"So really the best thing for your baby is an FDA-approved formula or breast milk," said Patsiokas. "So if you are still breastfeeding continue to breastfeed as much as you can."

Most importantly, she suggests consulting with your pediatrician before introducing anything new to your baby.